martedì 8 maggio 2012


KLD is a Chinese manufacturer active since 2000 in the production of guitar amps, effects and other accessories such as power reducers etc, recently landed on the Italian market through Startel Srl – Vicenza, exclusive importer for Italy. Among the first dealers to exhibit this brand we find “Jacolino Srl  - Vicenza”, where the   owner Stefano has launched in recent days an invitation to try on the web and review these amps, thing that I collected with curiosity and enthusiasm.
So let’s talk about the KLD GT30HM, tube-amp head coupled for the occasion to a  Hughes & Kettner 4x12 enclosure available in the store. I used for the test my G & L Legacy Tribute, a Korean middle class guitar, together with my Digitech RP1000 pedalboard, used only  as a multi-effect, thus excluding the amp simulations.
The amp-head shows a solid construction with a sturdy perforated metal sheet that reveals valves and circuits inside. The overall look is improvable, but that does not hide a certain aggressiveness, especially when the amp is on, and the filaments of tubes give an intriguing light. Weight is around 13/14kg,  not a feather but  serenely transportable with one hand. Knobs are “Chicken Head – type” black and with white indicator for good visibility. Their quality is ok.
The amp has a two channels configuration, clean and distorted, selectable by the panel or by footswitch (not supplied). The clean channel has a single pot for gain; the second channel has two volume controls (pre and post gain). Both channels share reverb and three band EQ section (classic bass-mid-treble) and presence, to give air to the sound. Finally, we find the control of master volume. There is a switch to "gain boost" that adds a few decibels to the sound, although not particularly efficient (basically we will keep it always on) and an effects loop.
The rear panel outputs supports  different impedances (8-16 ohms), and there is a comfortable XLR DI output, easy to record or send a signal to the mixer without necessarily mic the speaker.
The amp is equipped with three 12AX7 tubes for the preamp, and 4 EL84 for power. Features like this let us immediately think to the sounds of British amps, like Vox,  Marshall and Laney;  let’s now discover what our ears have to say about….
A first taste of the clean channel, with gain raised at 10.00 and tones flat, shows a full-bodied clean tone, great for arpeggios. It seems to have a sound very thick, ready to crunch according to our touch, or adding some gain to the amp. 

Strumming or funk tones must be reached lowering the volume pot of the guitar, or keeping down  bass and mid and emphasizing some treble. The result is stll by the hand.

Rising up the gain we will quickly reach blues tone, and it’s  really fun playing with  touch and feeling the work of the valves, enjoying a very good dynamic response.

The most interesting impression in both shades, and that will be  confirmed in the second channel, is the large reserve of power that this amp features. Compared to 15watts of the same brand, tried a few minutes before, you really seem to haveall the headroom you may need in your pocket .

Turning to the second channel, at low to medium levels of gain we can easily  simulate Stones, Zeppelin and Free riffs, finding us in a classic rock & roll area. Cranking up the gain, and pulling on  the mid-range, the amplifier shows  a beautiful lead-voice. On the other side, lowering the  midrange and pulling on bass and treble, we are ready to heavy metal.

The combined use of a multi-effects confirms a good capacity  of "digesting" the pedals, when connected straight to the input of the amplifier. The use of  some compression and modulation  literally "gives" life to the sound in both cleaned and in semi-distorted mode. We can reach great distortion tones a in the clean channel adding a good distortion pedal (rat style) or a fuzz (my favorite configuration), while in the lead channel combining a little overdrive or distortion you can add  roundness to the natural sound of the amp, giving a boost more complete. Adding a  load distortion,  like “Metal Zone” , you can get  “telluric” results.

So, at the end of the game, the amp sounds beautiful and usable in all configurations, accompanied by a nice solid feel and power. The combined use of some effects can then really take off the sonic palette available, covering all kind of music, from blues to heavy metal.

The amp, given its size and the propensity for vigorous tone (remember that there are no attenuations of the power circuits, which are present in 15W) is indicated in rehearsal room, fighting with drummers, rather than evenings in small venues. Not recommended for home use instead.A reasonable allocation with  2x12 enclosures Celestion equipped, will be the right  complement to  the beautiful voice of this head-amp.
The street price around 500 euros, is competitive with heads of the same power. The amp is recommended especially to young guitarists who play modern genres and are starting to perform live with continuity. With less than $ 1000,combining for example the head with a good 2x12 Marshall or  Laney and some pedal (a TS9, a Ds1 and a Small Clone) you can get a set-up with great  tone and  and power, which has nothing to envy with solutions even more famous but certainly much more expensive.

Lorenzo Masenello
Age: 50 Y
Town:  Vicenza – Italy
Guitar Player and Songwriter
Influences: Classic, Blues, Hard & Progressive Rock

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